Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Yee Sang

Remember how I mentioned I didn't like Yee Sang? Well, we did eat it from a packet so I guess I wasn't giving it a fighting chance. We stopped in at Monk and Me on Monday night, to find that they're serving yee sang on a special Chinese New Year menu until 8 Feb this year!

Monk and Me
9 Evans Pl
Hawthorn East 3213
(03) 9813 3261


My parents wanted to try the yee sang, so I was happy to give it another go. And the option of having raw slices of salmon with it sealed the deal. The salad by itself is $33, but you can get a serve of raw salmon for $8.

Their version includes carrots, lemon, chillies, leek, jellyfish, grapefruit, fried wonton skin, coriander and peanuts. Man, it's tiring just typing out the list of ingredients, imagine slicing them all yourself!

Salmon + peanuts

Fried wonton skins and sauce. A whole plate of crispy-fried deliciousness. (A lot nicer than the ones from the packet, hehe).

We put all the ingredients on a big plate in the middle and stirred it all together with our chopsticks. And you know, after my average experience with yee-sang on Chinese New Year's eve, I was so impressed with Monk's version! All the ingredients were super fresh, and I loved the salmon and the crispy crispy wonton skins.

It's my mission to make my own yee sang next year... watch this space.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Chinese New Year

Yee Sang Family Toss

Happy New Year! I hope everyone's celebrations have been super-fun! In a super-lucky coincidence for us Aussies, Chinese New Year fell on Australia Day this year. You know what that means... long weekend! Wahoo!

We always have our family reunion dinner on Chinese New Year's eve, and it's very important that the whole family sits down together for this special dinner.

Chinese New Year is all about tradition, and you'll see that this year's menu was pretty much the same as 07, 06 and 05. I realise now that I didn't do a blog post for last year's dinner, but, well, the food was the same. Last year I did all the cooking myself, but this year I'm very happy to say we had the whole family at home to celebrate and do the preparations together.

Chinese New Year's Eve Reunion Dinner

Yee Sang - Chinese New Year salad containing jellyfish and raw veggies
Kiam Chye Th'ng - Soup with salted vegetables, duck and pork
Loh Bak - finely chopped belly pork, spiced, wrapped in soy-bean skin and deep-fried to crispy perfection
Chicken Curry Kapitan - coconut-milk based chicken curry

You can see that we have pretty typical Penang nyonya-type food. We don't normally do Yee Sang, but lots of my brother's Hong Kong friends eat it, and he thought it would be a nice idea for us to try it. Apparently Yee Sang is a pain in the arse to make, because you have to grate up all the vegetables into tiny tiny slivers. We got ours out of a packet. It feels very Chinese to be having this at new year's, but to be honest I'm not sure if most of the Chinese have Yee Sang, or if it's just certain groups.

At any rate, I find use of the term "the Chinese" to be a gross oversimplification - reductive and patronising. (Yes, that's right Kylie Kwong, BBC Good Food magazine article, I'm looking at you...). Over one billion individuals live in China itself, not to mention the estimated 40,000,000 overseas Chinese (a group to which I proudly belong). All I feel qualified to talk about the family's traditions of my family, that my parents inherited from their families in Malaysia. How on earth would you reduce the New Year traditions of such a massive and diverse group of people to a short, lite-reading article?

Ok, rant over, back to the Yee Sang.

Basically you place all the ingredients on a plate, then the family stands up and tosses the salad together with their chopsticks. Apparently the higher you toss, the higher your luck for the new year. It's good fun. I didn't really like the taste, and found the sauce a bit strong, but my brother's girlfriend loves it. I'm guessing it's an acquired taste.

Loh Bak! Yummm....

The Kiam Chye Th'ng...

And the chicken curry! It's a bit more yellow than normal, I think I went overboard with the turmeric, hehe.

We don't really do New Year's desserts, although there'll always be tee kuih (sweet sticky glutinous rice cake thingo, comes in a big fat disc with a red and gold lucky label on the top) and some kuih bahulu (sweet dry sponge cake biscuity things) around the house. We'd usually have yam cookies too, but we're trying not to go OTT with the unhealthy food, haha.

What we did have after dinner was a small sip of something special...

Always important to have a little gold, in the hope for prosperity in the year ahead.


Friday, January 23, 2009

Gooey Chocolate Pudding for 2

There are some times when you just need something totally decadent, rich, and chocolatey. You know, a horrible day at work, that time of the month, realising you've missed out on Law and Order: SVU again this week...

A perfect chocolate pudding can make the worst of times seem not so bad, especially when you can share it with someone special. Perfect: A sweet, small, stolen treat.

For this gorgeous gooey chocolate pudding, I used Nigella's recipe from How to Eat, which is supposed to serve 4. I roughly divided the quantities by 3, which turned out to be the perfect size for a decadent pudding to be shared between 2. (It's not fattening if you share it... right?) It is super-easy, only takes about 20 minutes to make in total, and gives totally delicious comfort and satisfaction. Recipe provided below. You can thank me later.

Just try not to argue over that last piece of pudding.

Crackly and Gooooey...

I know it's not the prettiest pudding, but hot-damn it is good!

Gooey Chocolate Pudding for 2
(adapted from Nigella Lawson's How to Eat)

50g good quality dark chocolate
50g unsalted butter
1 large egg
50g sugar
1 tbs plain flour

Preheat the oven to 200C. Melt the chocolate and butter in a bowl suspended over simmering water. Stir until melted. In another bowl, whisk together the egg, sugar and flour until just blended. Gradually whisk in the melted chocolate and butter, set aside. Grease a 250ml ramekin with butter and add a spoonful of flour, turning and tapping the ramekin to make the flour coat the sides. Pour the mixture into the ramekin, and bake for approx 10-15 minutes, until crackly on the top and gooey and soft within.

Wait (if you can) until it is at a bearable temperature, then dig straight in. Serve with cold, cold cream.

Makes 1 generous pot, Serves 2 lucky people

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


Green Tea & Red Bean Muffin

I read about Cibi on Tummy Rumbles, saw that it was a super trendy mod-Japanese cafe, and hauled-ass straight down there.

45 Keele St
Collingwood 3066
(03) 9077 3941

Cibi is located on a quiet residential street in Collingwood, just off Smith street. It's part cafe, part arty design shop. The decor and menus are very Japanese, but the crowd is totally Collingwood. We went on a Saturday morning and found it to be super busy, which gave us a bit of time to walk around the shop and check out the goods. I was impressed by the LeCorbusier poster and funky homeware pieces on sale. I was also really excited that they have Uniqlo jeans for sale there! Uniqlo is my favourite Japanese brand for jeans - "boyfriend" and "style up bootcut" styles are the best! Was less excited, however, when I saw they were selling them for $150. Ahem! I got them for a third of the price in Japan... but I guess this way you don't have to fork out for the return ticket to Tokyo.

Ok, food. You order at the bar and they bring it out to you. However, once we got seated, it took an aaage for the food and drinks to come out. First up were drinks.
Cappuccino - I *heart* those Romcaffé cups.

Brown tea in cute pot

After about 15 minutes of sitting, waiting, our waitress came up to us asking if I still wanted the Japanese breakfast I'd ordered. They'd just run out of rice and had to start cooking it again, so it would be at least another 30 minutes. And instead of brown rice, they'd be doing regular white rice and millet. We weren't in a hurry, so I told her I'd wait. And I like millet.

We hunkered down and sipped our drinks slowly, waiting....

... waiting...


...nearly fainting from hunger...

... looking at other tables with severe envy...

... and then our food came! Phew.

Sandra ordered toast with strawberry jam (made in-house) and butter. A very plain choice, yes, but it was soo good! The toast was crusty and crunchy, and the jam had huge chunks of strawberry in it. Very yummy.
Sourdough toast w jam and butter - $5

I went for the Japanese breakfast. A bargain at $14.50. You get miso soup...

And a big plate of food.

Traditional Japanese breakfast - $14.50.

Available only on weekends, includes potato salad, salmon, omelette, spinach, and rice. Delicious, hearty, and nutritious. The Japanese-style potato salad is soft and mushy, almost liked mashed potato, and contains gouda cheese and tiny pieces of brocolli. Very different from my beloved kartoffelsalat, but still so tasty. It made me realise that, indeed, I love potato salad in all its forms.

On the way out we picked up that green tea and red bean muffin you see at the top of the post. I needed my brother to do me a favour, and I thought the muffin would make a suitable bribe. I snuck a little taste of the muffin, and found it a little dry. I thought it could have done with a touch more red bean inside. The almond flakes on top, however, were a great touch, and added taste and texture.

Overall I really liked Cibi, despite the long wait for the food. The food was great, and next time I'd like to try the potato salad sandwich, or the gorgeous-looking soba salad. The staff were really nice and I loved the chill-axed atmosphere and bright, airy space. I would highly recommend this place, especially for Japan-o-philes. Oishikute, kimochii ii yo.

Cibi on Urbanspoon

Monday, January 19, 2009


Hello All!!

I do apologise for the lack of posts recently - not only has the start of the year has been unfathomably busy, but my internet has, once again, been capped. ARGH!! We've just upgraded to a faster package, but this will take some time to be effective.

So, a belated Happy New Year to all my lovely readers. Here is an update of what I've been up to, and what is to come for 2009.

1. Wrote a review of Venezia for The Gastronomer's Bookshelf. This website, Duncan's baby, is a collaborative website for informed food lovers to share their opinions of the latest cookbooks. Anyone interested in reviewing, sign up now!

2. Embarked on THE BOX HILL CHALLENGE! We have decided to test the limits of human endurance (and our waistbands) by trying every single Asian restaurant in the Station St area of Box Hill (La Porchetta does not count). We've already tried about 4 new ones... posts will be coming soon.

3. Enjoyed some yummy POM Wonderful pomegranate juice that I was sent as a sample a few weeks back. I've tried it in a couple of recipes, but have found it's best enjoyed mixed with soda water as a refreshing summertime drink.

4. Spent an enjoyable weekend in Canberra, basically just eating for 3 days straight.

5. Planned the next Blogger's BBQ with Thanh and Duncan. It's gonna be on Saturday 7th Feb @ Batman park. Click here for more details, or here to RSVP at the motherpost.

Photos and blogs of all these, and more, coming as soon as my internet is back!

Friday, January 09, 2009

Melbourne Foodblogger Picnic/BBQ - 7th Feb 2009

It's been a while, hasn't it?

Come one, come all to the next Melbourne Foodblogger meet-up!

Thanh (I Eat Therefore I Am), Duncan (Syrup and Tang) and I have been frantically emailing back and forth to organise a blogger meet-up - it's been a long time since the last once. (And I, sadly, was not able to go the the last 2!) :(

Come and join us on Saturday 7th February for a picnic and BBQ on the Yarra! At Batman Park, opposite Crown, to be exact. It all starts at 11am, and we'll be lighting up the BBQs at midday. We'd love it if everyone could bring a dish to share and their own drinks, and hopefully we'll get a good mix of sweet and savoury.

View Larger Map

Check out Duncan's post here for more detail and directions. We're using his post as the motherpost: please leave a comment on his page to RSVP and let us know what you might be able to bring.

Hope to see lots of the Melbourne foodblogging community there!

xox Sarah

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Christmas 2008: Christmas Puddini Bonbons

These Christmas Puddini Bonbons were so cute, and sweet, and delicious, that I've decided they deserve their very own post. From (again), Nigella Christmas, they seemed like a good way of using leftover Christmas pudding, and, I thought, would make a cute addition to our post-Christmas BBQ. To be honest, I didn't think they'd taste that good, but boy oh boy, was I wrong.

They are not difficult to make, but are a little time consuming and fiddly.

1. Leftover Christmas pudding.
2. Mixing through the melted choc and golden syrup (I didn't add any extra alcohol).
3. Teeny weeny little balls! (Heh.)
4. Decorating station - melted white chocolate, and massacred Haribo gummi bears. Nigella suggests glace cherries, but I don't like the taste of them.

In the recipe, Nigella says you could buy a small Christmas pudding especially for this recipe, which seemed worryingly extravagant, until I tasted the bonbons. I liked our Christmas Pudding but didn't love it, as I found it too alcoholic and not cakey enough. However, the melted chocolate added a lovely, slightly bittersweet depth, and these bonbons were gorgeous. They're fruity and boozy (but not too much) and chocolatey, and totally compulsive. I'd make them as a gift, if I could restrain myself from eating them all first.

Apparently another way to use up leftover Christmas pudding is to fry it in butter - sounds scarily calorific, although I guess these babies aren't any healthier. At least they're in teensy weensy little pieces!

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Christmas 2008: BBQ

This is the last Christmas post for 2008, I promise. Should be. I think.

Pflaumenkuchen - Yeasted base, covered in slices of fresh plums. Superfresh, plucked from Su's tree!

We had a post-Christmas BBQ at mine on the Saturday 27th December. I'd been meaning to have one beforehand, but the weather had been a bit crap, and it was a bit difficult to get everyone together in the weeks leading up to Christmas. Luckily, loads of our friends were free on the Saturday after Christmas, everyone rocked up who said they would, and we had a great time. :D

Christmas BBQ for 15-20

Beef Chipolatas
Bourbon Chicken Wings
Minute Steaks
Leftover Ham

German Potato Salad
Green Salad
Turkey Vietnamese Coleslaw

Pflaumenkuchen (Plum Cake) with Cool Whip
Christmas Puddini Bonbons


So, as you can see from our "menu", we did some easy meat ($2.50 a kilo for chicken wings!), some nice salads, and a couple of special desserts and other Christmas leftovers. We had everything prepared by 12:30pm, people started rocking up around 1, and we fired up the BBQ at 2-ish.

The coleslaw was Nigella's Vietnamese chicken coleslaw, with leftover turkey, whilst the potato salad was Frau Margit's a-mazing bacon-filled kartoffelsalat.

The chicken wings were marinated overnight like the bourbon-glazed ribs in Nigella Christmas - in a mixture of Wild Turkey, mustard, soy sauce and dark muscovado sugar. We roasted them in the oven, rather than BBQ'ing them, because BBQ'ing chicken wings is a lengthy, frustrating pain in the backside. In the ribs recipe, Nigella suggests boiling down the marinade to make a BBQ sauce, but I wasn't too keen on making a sauce out of a marinade that had had raw chicken sitting in it. I boiled it down and made a sticky glaze to brush on the chicken wings before roasting.

After eating, we seemed to migrate down to the garden, so I made an impromptu little picnic-thang...

Christmas puddini bonbons; a Pflaumenkuchen, made with plums from Su's tree - such a wonderfully romantic idea - with some cool wHip, (if Stewie likes it, it can't be that bad); and an amazing stollen.

CUTE! Christmas Puddini Bonbons. From Nigella Christmas, by way of The Australian Women's Weekly. Ok, I've just decided I have to do another post on these, because they're just too yummy and cute!

Duncan brought this amazing Stollen he baked (he even made his own marzipan!) - it was soooo delicious! I was eating slices of it for breakfast all week. Mmm...

Phew! What a great day. We were totally knackered after all that Christmas cooking though; I can definitely see lots of simpler, lighter meals for the new year!

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Christmas 2008: Christmas Dinner

Happy New Year everyone! Hope y'all had a great night last night. We got Pizza Hut for dinner (my other local pizza place was closed!), and went down to Fed Square to see the fireworks. Boy howdy, it was crowded! My new year's resolutions are to eat healthier, exercise more, save money, keep my house clean, and to learn German properly (inserting random Deutsch words into my sentences doesn't count).

Anyhoo, I've still got a couple of Christmas posts to get through, so please enjoy these pics of our Christmas dinner!

All the best for 2009!

xox Sarah

Christmas Dinner for 7

Roast Turkey (How to Eat)
Roast Potatoes (How to Eat)
Red Cabbage

Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta and Chestnuts (Feast)
Baked Carrots

Bread Sauce (How to Eat)

Cranberry Sauce (From a jar)

Gravy (How to Eat)

Christmas Pudding with Brandy Cream (The Roux Brothers on Patisserie)

A few short notes - I wouldn't bother brining the turkey. I tried this last year for a Christmas in July, and it still turned out dry! I just do what Oma Resel in Germany does: cover it in butter, and baste it in beer. I could only find frozen Brussels sprouts and canned chestnuts, so they were a little fluffier and more mealy than I'd normally like. I got my cranberry sauce out of a jar this year. It's easy to make, but expensive, and buying a little jar means you're less likely to waste it. The Christmas pudding was beautiful, but very boozy. My family seemed to like it, but it was quite strong for me. Instead of the brandy cream, I would have preferred plain wHipped cream, or custard.